- What’s an Actor Slate?
- How to Slate in an Audition?
- Create a Slate for Your Child’s KidsCasting Profile
It's April 2020, and lots of us are locked in at home with our kids. Spending so much time together can get difficult, but at the same time - it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build stronger family bonds. What's more, it's a fantastic chance to develop your young superstar's acting skills & portfolio. You have time to update your KidsCasting profile, apply to auditions online, and learn about how to rock at ShowBiz. And it's all going to come in SUPER handy once the quarantine is over - your kid will be better prepared and ahead of their peers. Your family will hit the ground running. Today, let's talk about slating - it's simple, it's easy, and you can practice it at home. At the end of this article, we'll even create a slate together & upload it to your KidsCasting profile! The result? You'll have a wonderful short video that Casting Directors will absolutely love. Let's dive right in.
The slate is just an introduction to the camera and here's an example - Miley Cyrus slating for the role of Hannah Montana:
The slate: “I'm Miley Cyrus, I'm with CED, and I'm auditioning for the role of Zoe and Hannah Montana”. A slate is a friendly introduction, and usually, the casting director will tell your kid what to say, but the standard things to say are their full name and age, e.g. “My name is Lawrence Peterson, and I'm seven years old.”
Saying your name can't be that hard, can it? Well, it's harder than you think. There are a million ways to mess up and just as many to do it right. The core principle to good slating is the Golden Middle rule - don't do too much, don't do too little. The slate doesn't have to be a perfectly polished act. It should showcase your kid's personality and he/she shouldn't put on a fake persona just to be liked. With that in mind, here's what your kid must do for a fantastic slate:
- Put on a nice shirt/dress and make sure they don't look messy
- Look straight into the camera
- Slate with a big, friendly smile
- Say “First name + last name + age”
- Say it slow & as articulate as possible
- Stand still while doing it
- Practice, practice, practice
Also, while practicing at home - try different clothes to see what looks best on camera. That way, on audition day, you'll know EXACTLY what your kid should wear! Plus, it's always fun to play a bit of dress-up.
Also Read: How to Dress Your Child for an Audition?
Woohoo, let's put everything we just learned into practice. At the end of this, your kid will rock at slating, and you'll also have a video to upload to your KidsCasting profile. Best part? Do it right now from the comfort of your own home!
Part 1: The Set-up
Find a nice clutter-free background. A plain wall is ideal. Make sure there is good natural light, preferably from a window. But if that's not an option, any household lamp will do. Now it's time to set up your camera - your smartphone will be more than enough. The tough part, however, is to make sure it's steady - do not film the slate while holding the camera in your hands! Shaky footage is unacceptable. Don't have a tripod? Here's an easy trick to create a makeshift one at home. Grab a used up carton from a toilet paper roll, some scissors, and let's do some quick arts & crafts:
TA-DAA! Now, you have a tripod that will hold your camera steady while you film. Easy as 1, 2, 3! So now you have your background, lighting, and camera ready, just one final thing left to do - get the perfect frame. For the slate, just like the headshot, full focus should be on the face, so you should frame the shot from the chest up like this:
The set-up is complete! All that's left to do is press that “Record” button and let your kid do their job.
Part 2: The Slate
Have your child slate for the camera: “Hi, my name is [Firstname] [Lastname] and I'm [X] years old”, and, of course, remind them to do it with a wide smile and to look straight into the camera. A quick tip: to get those cheeks a little flushed for a happy and healthy look, have your kid do ten squats. You can do them together! We're working on your kid's acting skills, had some arts and crafts, and now there's a bit of exercise - FANTASTIC. Regarding sound, you need to make sure there are no intruding sounds. Wait for that car to go by the window, and ask your special other to turn down the TV - try to get everything as quiet as possible so it doesn't interfere with your child's voice.
Part 3: Getting the Perfect Video
You've got everything set up, your child knows their line, and the sound is great - now it's just a matter of getting the perfect video. And there's no better way to do that than repetition. Have your kid slate over and over until they get it perfect. You can also find another background, change up the lighting, and even have your kid change clothes every few takes to find that perfect outfit. If something isn't working, don't hesitate to shake things up. You'll turn your entire house into a fun filming set.
After a while, you've got three amazing videos, and you can't pick your favorite? Involve friends and family - ask which they prefer. A perspective from the side can be valuable - they might notice something you didn't. And you've reached the end - you've got an INCREDIBLE slate by your talented kid that casting directors will absolutely love. Just one final thing left to do.
Part 4: Putting Your Video on KidsCasting
- Step 1: Create a YouTube account if you don't have one.
- Step 2: Click the Camera icon (top-right corner for desktop) & select Upload video
- Step 3: Follow the instructions and fill out the details of your video.
- Step 4: If you want your video to be private and not to be found on YouTube, then select Unlisted in the Visibility tab.
- Step 5: Just Save your video, and you'll get a link to it.
- Step 6: Go to your KidsCasting profile, head over to the Media tab, and click the big plus.
- Step 7: Add your link, give your video a title, and… click Save.
That's it! Now you have the perfect slate on your KidsCasting profile! Now, keep in mind that you'll need to update it at least once a year - so your kid is saying their correct age on the video. Beyond just a video on KidsCasting, you now have a child who knows how to slate very well. This is wonderful for any video auditions you might have and will make you look like a pro in the eyes of casting directors.